Paul Ryan: "In this war on poverty, poverty's winning"

This right here is one of the biggest reasons that Paul Ryan would make such a good vice president — his ability to succinctly and effectively communicate major truths about the universally-enriching mechanisms of free enterprise is a huge selling point with me. As much as I’m sure we all — ahem — enjoy the episodes frequently supplied by the current gentleman occupying that esteemed office, the vice presidency could use a new tone based a little less on outrageous outrage and a little more on economic reality.

At a campaign rally today in battleground-state Ohio, Ryan made a compelling case for freedom and prosperity as the antidotes to poverty in and of themselves, via The Hill:

“Upward mobility is the central promise of life in America. But right now, the engines of upward mobility are not running as they should,” the Wisconsin congressman said, speaking at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio. “In this war on poverty, poverty’s winning.” …

Ryan, in his speech, rejected the idea that Mitt Romney does not have a plan to save entitlement programs, specifically naming Medicare and food stamps. He also directly confronted Obama’s criticism that he and Romney care more about millionaires and billionaires than the middle class or poor people, calling it a “straw man” argument to say that their position is “every man should fend for themselves.”

“The truth is, Mitt Romney and I believe in upward mobility,” he said. “There has to be a balance, allowing government to act for the private good while leaving private groups free to do the work that only they can do. There’s a vast common ground between the government and the individual.”

But over the past five decades, government has spent more money on a “centralized, top-down approach” that by the 1970s created a “debilitating culture of dependency,” Ryan said.

That was… textbook. President Obama has often tried to commandeer the term “top-down” approach to suit his own populist, political agenda, but here, Paul Ryan ventures to use the intellectually-honest version of the term. Big-government (i.e., normally Democratic) principles too often come paired with unintended consequences that end up generating or worsening the very things they were [ostensibly] meant to avoid. Impose a hugely intrusive, regulatory crackdown aimed at the eeeevil financial sector? Ensure too-big-to-fail. Try to force your pet green-energy projects upon the masses and create green jobs? Divert valuable resources and destroy productive jobs. Orchestrate an overhaul of the health care industry? Make it more costly for everyone. You get the idea.

Few things have actually combated poverty so ineffectively as the principles enacted in the name of the “war on poverty.” Prosperity is the only large-scale, penetrating solution that addresses the root of the problem, and under President Obama, both the poverty rate and entitlement participation have swelled. More Democratic, centralized policies will not save us from this mess, nor help push people into the middle class. Paul Ryan just gets it — and it feels so good.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on March 27, 2023